Festival space in architect’s hands

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 21, 2014 

Ideas were popping March 19 at a meeting to design the festival space at 123 Third Street downtown.

A couple dozen members of various arts groups and others parties, such as Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street, met at City Hall Wednesday to banter about the design.

Now’s the turn of architect’s at Hollis+Miller to refine the suggestions and bring back several options for the Lee’s Summit Arts Council to consider before it makes a recommendation to the city council.

The group heard background on ideas for the space from earlier meetings, presented by Chris Heinz of Hollis+Miller, and then started using paper cutouts representing different sizes of stages or crowds to consider the layout of a stage and open-air seating next to Arnold Hall. They also briefly discussed concepts for incorporating that building into the overall plan.

What emerged during voting on various configurations were three orientations architects will study and report on each schemes advantages, disadvantages and feasibility.

The plan is to have a flexible space to accommodate crowds, but also people who might want to use the space to eat a sack lunch or visit, with an outdoor performance stage as a main feature.

One puts the stage at the southwest corner of Arnold Hall, either incorporated into the building or wrapped around it. Arnold Hall could be used to house dressing rooms for performers and bathrooms for the public.

The other would put the stage alongside Third Street, west of Arnold Hall. A variation offered would have a building facing Third with the stage behind.

The final option would be to put the stage at the southwest corner of the lot. On the Third Street side there could be green space or a sculpture garden.

Other ideas included a pad site for a future building at the rear, with the stage next to Arnold Hall on the south side, or facing Thirds Street. The additional buildings would be phased in over time and could be private projects.

Each variation got mixed support, as the group pondered conflicting advantages.

Moving the stage away from Arnold Hall could lead to increased costs for the stage, because it might mean building extra pace for dressing rooms, but Arnold Hall still could be used for crowd restrooms.

The plan for a building and stage on Third Street restricts access and view of the space from the main drag. It could be accessed by a promenade.

“We lose the entrance to the space, it feels like a tunnel to me,” said Beth Lindquist, an arts council member.

Dave Eames, a member of DLSMS, said he liked adding more buildings on the site because it could create a cozy, intimate space.

“I’d like to see density of material,” Eames said. “It doesn’t need a wide open feel to it.”

The plans mostly eliminate parking now on the site, an issue Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street Director Trisha Drape addressed.

It would also limit use of the space for carnival rides that come a couple times a year with downtown events.

Christine Bushyhead said Arnold Hall can be left much like it is, with exposed brick on the interior walls. That’s a look popular for older architecture these days and would keep costs to a minimum.

If there are proposals later from an arts group or other users to lease Arnold Hall, then the tenant can finish it. One possible additional use is for offices for civic groups, or rehearsal spaces.

“We keep it stripped, not tenant finished, and we don’t have to spend a lot of money,” Bushyhead said.

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